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By Owámniyomni Okhódayapi | February 21, 2023

In a media briefing held on February 3rd, 2023 it was announced that Mark Andrew would be retiring as the President of Friends of the Falls, taking his place will be Shelley Buck. Shelley has been a part of this project since late 2020 and was a valued member of our Native Partnership Council. She is currently serving her sixth term on Prairie Island Tribal Council in addition she serves as a board member of the Minnesota Wild Foundation, the Great River Passage Conservancy, and the Lower Phalen Creek Project. 


In his time as president, Mark was instrumental in initiating the transfer of property from federal to local control, establishing partnerships with the city and park board, building relationships with Native communities, and establishing a vision for Owámniyomni, or St. Anthony Falls. “Mark Andrew has led the effort to recruit Shelley Buck as his successor and to add Native board members. We now are Native-led with a majority Native board. We are grateful for Mark’s leadership and commitment to The Falls Initiative.” said  Paul Reyelts, Co-Founder of Friends of the Falls. 


Shelley says her vision for the future of the site is one of “healing, connecting/reconnecting, educating, and community building.”


Early design ideas were also released for the project site at Owámniyomni, St. Anthony Falls. The designs depict gathering places for ceremony and healing, and places to connect physically with the river. Interpretive signage along winding pathways educates people about the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of the area to the Dakota people.The early design ideas depicted in illustrative drawings by GGN, a Seattle-based landscape architectural firm, in partnership with local architect VJAA, were the result of direction from the Native Partnership Council. The drawings do not represent final designs, and the ideas will evolve based on Dakota Tribal leaders’ input and direction.

Images provided by GGN

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